PLAYING AROUND

High Fives on Way to Gate River Run Victory

Bawcom and True win titles; former Jaguars lineman Collier competes in Challenge Mile

More than 15,000 runners finished the Gate River Run on March 9.
David Johnson
Posted

Janet Bawcom's performance at the Gate River Run was worth $17,000.

For the young fans she gave high-fives on the race course, smiles were free.

"It's an accomplishment if I can make that kid smile," Bawcom said of sharing the moment with children on the race course before she even had the lead.

After running side by side with Alisha Williams for 7 miles, Bawcom broke away to win her second consecutive Gate River Run title on Saturday, March 9, in Downtown Jacksonville.

In the men's race, Ben True pulled away from Bobby Curtis in the final mile and held on to win his first River Run title, ending Mo Trafeh's three-year run as champion.

"Once I knew that Mo wasn't making the move, I knew it was going to be more of a tactical race," True said. "I was looking forward to it.

"I figured it was going to come down to Bobby and I for a kick."

True finished in 43 minutes, 38 seconds, while Bawcom ran it in 49:44. True could not erase the elite women's head start of 6 minutes, 35 seconds, but he and Bawcom each won $12,000 for claiming the U.S. 15K national championships.

Bawcom is 2 for 2 at the race and hasn't allowed a man to pass her at the River Run, claiming an additional $5,000 for the equalizer bonus each time.

The Brooks Rehabilitation Challenge Mile drew a record 298 competitors, including former Jaguars player Richard Collier, who was paralyzed from the waist down after suffering multiple gunshot wounds in 2008. Collier finished the mile race in 9 minutes, 45 seconds.

After the race, he teared up while talking to reporters and said the race was tougher than he expected.

True, who returned to the River Run after a second-place finish in 2011, beat Curtis by two seconds. Three other men — Ryan Vail (50:18), Sean Quigley (50:20) and Christo Landry (50:21) — finished within eight seconds of True.

The 34-year-old Bawcom, who went by Janet Cherobon when she won her first River Run in 2012, beat Williams, 31, by seven seconds.

True's victory denied Trafeh in his attempt to join Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor as the only competitors to win four consecutive Gate River Run titles.

"It just wasn't my day," said Trafeh, who finished eighth in 50:46. "My legs were very tight, very heavy, from flying, but no excuses. Ben [True] ran a great race."

When asked what races he was looking ahead toward, Trafeh said he was looking to return to Jacksonville to reclaim the title.

"I want to win that title again before I'm done," he said. "You have to lose to win."

A streak of 12 consecutive years of growth ended with 17,454 runners registering — 8,251 men and 9,203 women. The race attracted about 1,000 fewer registrants than the 2012 record.

Also ending a 12-year streak of records, the River Run had 15,570 finishers, down from 16,344 in 2012.

Brother and sister Connor and Shannon Holm claimed the 5K titles in the Times-Union Run & Walk for Charity. The 5K is an untimed race.

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